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Chicago Master Gardener

A blog for Chicago Master Gardeners providing information on volunteer opportunities, training, workshops and resources.

New Website: Fabulous Foliage

Posted by Ron Wolford -

Color can be the most impressive feature in the home garden, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator who developed a new website focusing on the use of foliage.

"Color is the garden feature that often overrides those of texture and form and thus becomes the most impressive and memorable of all the garden qualities," explained Greg Stack. "We remember color long after we leave the garden."

To help home gardeners decide what colorful foliage will look best in their garden, U of I Extension has launched "Fabulous Foliage".

"A current trend in home gardening is the use of plants that are tropical looking and that combine texture with boldly colored foliage," said Stack. "Plants with colorful foliage can create a bold color impact that continues for many months.

"This ability to provide long-lasting color which is not reliant upon flowers opens up a whole style of gardening that can make any garden inviting and dramatic."

Traditionally, one rule of the garden is that plants with colorful foliage should be used sparingly.

"But, when you set out to create a garden of color using foliage, you have to rely more on the colors of the foliage than those of the flowers," he said. "Flowers, as nice as they are, come and go, but foliage remains constant. So break the rules."

Stack recommended using masses of the same brightly colored foliage plants in groups of three, five, seven, nine, or more.

"The effect will be show stopping," he said.

On the website, Stack recommends some rules to follow as well as an endless array of plants that can be added to the garden for their foliage texture and color.

"The list will help to get you started in adding drama to the garden with plants that have fabulous foliage," he said.

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